Those That Really Tarnish Nigeria's Image

Written by Okey Ifeachor
25th May 2012

James Ibori

Nigeria Senate President, David Mark, was recently quoted as saying that Nigeria government will not intervene in criminal cases that affect Nigerians in the Diaspora.

His exact words: “If they break the laws there (abroad) they should face the consequences. This is a warning to other Nigerians abroad. They cannot continue to tarnish our image.”

The senate president was speaking against the background of recent conviction of some Nigerians abroad for drug related offences. David Mark was emphatic that Nigeria government will not intervene on behalf of its citizens abroad who run afoul of the laws of their host countries. His pique was that they tarnish the image of Nigeria.

Of a truth, Nigeria has battered image abroad. It is a burden to have the green passport. Many other nationals look at Nigerians with disdain; not because they are not intelligent people but because those nationals see Nigerians as dubious. But it is not only Nigerians that that show dubious traits in yonder shores. So, why is Nigeria’s case different?

Nigeria is so blessed by God with abundant human and natural resources. Nigeria also has clement climate, good vegetation, rich soil, and other endowments which are the envy of other countries of the world. However, despite those gifts from God, the oil-rich West African country has not quite taken her pride of place in the comity of nations. Why?

The low level image Nigeria commands abroad is enough to anger David Mark. But the truth remains that the plummeting of Nigeria international image is not hinged on isolated cases of some dubious Nigerians abroad. The real image issue which Nigeria suffers is orchestrated by the leadership of the country which David Mark is a key player. We are all living witnesses to the war called elections in the country where electoral victory was often stolen in broad day light; we are all living witnesses to the brazen corruption going on unashamedly in every arm and tier of government. These are some of the things that diminish Nigeria image internationally.

Those who tarnish the image of Nigeria are those people in government who make Nigeria to look big for nothing. They are those lawmakers and their counterparts in the executive and judiciary arms of government who fill our tertiary institutions with unqualified cronies thereby denying those qualified their right to academic excellence. They are those who by design have vowed that Nigeria’s educational sector will be nothing to write home abroad, while they send their children abroad for studies. They are those men and women in high places who through their red pen notes and phone calls secure employment for their unqualified children, relatives and associates at the expense of those qualified but have no body to speak for them.

The real culprits of Nigeria’s battered image are the legislators, members of the executive and judiciary who loot the treasury dry without second altruistic thought for the majority languishing in abject poverty. They are those who take millions of naira home as salary but have refused to pay N18, 000 minimum wages. They are the men and women who in spite of the unmerited enormous wealth at their disposal are neither investing in charity nor in industry to help raise the standard of living of fellow citizens. Those tarnishing Nigeria’s image are those who steal from our commonwealth and hide such loots abroad.

Those that make mockery of Nigeria are those who have refused to make our hospitals work but at the slightest sign of illness jump into the plane for medical attention abroad at the expense of taxpayers. One wonders where they would have gone if those countries they fly to neglected their health sector as Nigeria leaders have done.

One of the responsibilities of countries the world over is to care for their citizens anywhere in the world. Western countries are very good at citizens’ diplomacy and that is why they their citizens can die for their country. In Nigeria, those who govern us, nay, rule us are not perturbed how fellow citizens are treated abroad. Why should they care when those at home are not treated with any modicum of respect? Such government renege on its duty to citizens is what tarnishes the image of Nigeria in the eyes of the world.

While criminality by Nigerians abroad is condemnable, it smacks of irresponsible leadership for government not to care for its citizens. Nigerians wherever they may be qualify to be cared for by their government. There have been cases where nationals of other countries serving jail terms in foreign countries have been returned home to do their jail sentence. Some countries have even ensured that their dead citizens were returned home to be buried. Such act promotes patriotism and increases national image in the comity of nations. Senate president David Mark should come to terms with this truth and act accordingly.